Julian Lage Trio (US, PE)
Julian Lage – guitar, Jorge Roeder – double bass, Eric Doob – percussion
The musical roots of this American guitarist are grounded in both jazz and (fittingly) roots music, also known as Americana – a mix of blues, country, folk, gospel, and rock. Each new album shows this heritage in ever sharper contours.
Even as a teenager, Julian amazed with his instrumental ability and his mature musicianship. At a mere thirty-one years of age, he has as much experience under his belt as many a musician earns over their whole life. His formative years were spent in the band of vibraphonist and perfectionist Gary Burton. His present music contains glints of all the styles that comprise the aforesaid Americana genre. Lage plays it soulfully, drawing from his Telecaster a rich yet brittle tone that many contemporary jazz guitarists fail to achieve. It is no wonder that his trio has such a colourful sound and wide pitch range. The trio’s performative value is bolstered by the excellent compositions of its bandleader, firmly set passages of groove and improvisation, which give all three of its members – the drummer Eric Doob, bassist Jorge Roeder (well reputed from Shai Maestro’s trio), and the frontman Lage – free reign to express themselves. Their latest record Modern Lore confirms their gradual departure from traditional jazz towards more atmospheric music unfettered by strict stylistic boundaries.
Purple is the Color (AT, CZ)
Simon Raab – piano, Štěpán Flagar – saxophone, Martin Kocián – double bass, Michał Wierzgoń – percussion
The overall winner of the Czech-Austrian Central European Jazz Competition is fittingly composed of Czech and Austrian musicians. But that is certainly not the greatest of the young quartet’s virtues. They amaze with their modern sound, which is deeply rooted in the traditions of the quartet form and reflects the influence of folk, classical, and popular music.
When the four musicians first met by chance at a jam session in Linz, it soon became clear that there was on-stage chemistry at work – and that it would be a pity to abandon this potential after just one evening. The band released its debut Unmasekd in autumn 2017 and presented it on its European Release Tour, which comprised a score of concerts in five different countries. Since then it has gradually made a name for itself both in Vienna and in the European jazz scene.
Purple is the Color’s music is both serious and whimsical, intricate and improvised. “Purple can only exist through the combination of blue and red. Our music is the result of composing and improvising in equal parts,” the bandleader Raab explains the origin of the name. The Austro-Czech quartet has quickly found its distinctive sound and is undoubtedly a group worth keeping one’s eye on.